Cool! It’s fun to share my fave Utah places. All of the following are in the general area of Southern Utah:
-Capitol Reef National Park, outside of Fruita (south-east) is wonderful; for the “real” experience you should hike up a mile or so of switchbacks and get into the back-country to see massive natural bridges over gorges. Few tourists, at least when I was last there about 15 years ago, venture much past the camping ground
The interpretive ranger talks at Capitol are the best I’ve ever attended.
-There are some great hikes up and down the Escalante River. Cool box canyons and rock squeezes.
**Stuff you probably already know, but . . . **
-Don’t go hiking in So. Utah if there is any chance of rain. People are regularly killed by flash floods that roar down the lime- and sandstone and fill box canyons. If you get caught in a storm, run to the highest point you can. Thunderheads move in quickly over this territory.
-Carry three times as much water than you think you’ll need for a hike. Buy a contour map and a compass; if you head out to back-country check-in with the nearest ranger station and give them an estimated time of return. People regularly disappear and are often not found.
-Watch for rattlesnakes. Some of the places I’m recommending are infested with rattlers. You may want to carry a snakebite kit.
-Butch Cassidy’s hideout/home is near Centerville. I don’t know if it has become touristy.
-Big Rock Candy Mountain is a great sandstone mountain of varying sandstone hues. When I was a kid there was a fun store of fakey Native American/fossils and some mangy coyotes and mountain lions in cages (let’s hope they don’t have animals there anymore).
-There’s an unexpectedly hip restaurant in Boulder (the Utah one) that serves delicious food. I can’t remember the name of it, but they have border collies wandering about and an attached local artisan store.
A few Central Utah sites:
-Timpanogas Mountain, the tallest mountain in the Wasatch Front, looms over Provo. If you go up and over the mountain you’ll find a beautiful glacier and glacier lake.
-Between Payson and Nephi there’s a gorgeous drive called the “Nebo Loop.” it winds up and through the southern arm of the Wasatch Front (50 miles or so).
Hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with suggestions – I’m having a lot of fun conveying this info.
A final note: Yellowstone is HELL ON EARTH in the summer, especially the Montana approach. You can be caught in 10-mile back-ups while really smart people stop to pet moose and kiss bears. It’s a fantastic place, just be warned it is a difficult summer destination (and don’t kiss any wildlife or jump in a geyser!)